Politics

GOP pollster says the Biden-Trump election could be called by Saturday afternoon

Key Points
  • GOP pollster Frank Luntz told CNBC he believes the presidential race between Democrat Joe Biden and President Donald Trump could be decided in the next 36 hours.
  • "There are enough states and enough electoral votes that can be called where it's going to be very tough for the president" to win, Luntz said around 6:50 a.m. ET on Friday.
  • Luntz's Friday comments came as Biden overtook Trump in Georgia by a slim margin and trimmed his deficit against the president in Pennsylvania.
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GOP pollster Frank Luntz says presidential election could be called within the next 36 hours

The winner of the presidential race between Democrat Joe Biden and President Donald Trump should be decided within the next 36 hours, Republican strategist and pollster Frank Luntz told CNBC on Friday morning.

"There are enough states and enough electoral votes that can be called where it's going to be very tough for the president" to win, Luntz said on "Squawk Box."

Luntz's comments around 6:50 a.m. ET on Friday came shortly after Biden overtook Trump in Georgia by more than 1,000 votes with 99% of the expected vote in, according to NBC News. The contest in Georgia, which has 16 electoral votes, remains too close to call and could stay that way for a while longer. The race in the state, which has 16 electoral votes, remains too close to call. And it may remain that way for weeks, according to John Lapinski, director of the NBC Elections Unit.

Just before 9 a.m. ET Friday, Biden took a slim lead over Trump in Pennsylvania, as mail-in ballots across the pivotal swing state continue to be tabulated. According to NBC News, Biden now holds a roughly 5,500 vote advantage over Trump, with 95% of the expected vote in.

Pennsylvania, which Trump won in 2016, has 20 electoral votes. A victory by Biden in the state would vault the former vice president over the 270 electoral vote threshold needed to win the White House. Luntz told CNBC on Wednesday he believes Biden will ultimately prevail in Pennsylvania because much of the mail-in ballots left to be counted are from Democratic strongholds.

The nation is waiting on a winner in the presidential race, with Friday marking the third day since polls closed on Election Day. Before Tuesday's election, Luntz and many other political observers cautioned Americans that a surge in mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic meant it may take media organizations a few days make a call in the race.

Biden currently has 253 electoral votes of the 270 needed, while Trump has 214, according to NBC News, which has yet to make a projection in a number of states. In addition to Pennsylvania and Georgia, swing-state contests are undecided in Arizona, Nevada, and North Carolina.

Biden holds a slight lead in Arizona, which has 11 electoral votes, but it has been narrowing. Per NBC News, 90% of the expected vote in Arizona has been tallied. Biden also leads in the race for Nevada's six electoral votes, with 89% of the expected vote counted, according to NBC News. If Biden were to win those two states, the rest of the unsettled contests would not matter.

Trump holds a lead in North Carolina, which has 15 electoral votes. The president's path to reelection has been narrowing but the door has not been completely shut.

Luntz cautioned that should news organizations make a projection on the winner, there will be litigation over the outcomes that could stretch out the process of arriving at an official determination. Additionally, there are likely to be recounts in states such as Georgia, given the razor-thin nature of the vote margin in the state.

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who was Al Gore's 2000 running mate, told CNBC on Thursday that Trump has a right to challenge vote totals in court. But he said he hopes the losing candidate of the current election takes a cue from Gore nearly two decades after the protracted court fight over Florida recount efforts in the presidential race against then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

"You've got a right to take your case to the courts. Let the judges decide. But most of all, as Al Gore did in 2000, it has got to end at some point for the good of the country," Lieberman, who has endorsed Biden, said on "Squawk Box." "You've got to have a transfer of power and pull together."

After the Supreme Court decision on Dec. 12, 2000, against continuing the Florida recount, Gore decided to cease any further challenges and he conceded the race to Bush a day later.

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Former senator Joe Lieberman: Trump has a right to take his case to court